New parents spend more money on fresh fruits and vegetables than before having children, according to a new University of Michigan study that indicates this key moment in parents’ lives could be used to create interventions that support healthier eating habits.
“When people become parents, they may be more likely to change their eating habits,” said lead author Dr. Betsy Cliff, who recently received her doctoral degree from the Department of Health Management and Policy at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. “This period could be a good target for programs that encourage greater produce consumption.”
According to the study, published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, the proportion of the grocery budget spent on fruit increased by 21 percent and the proportion spent on vegetables increased by 10 percent compared to before they were parents. The higher spending on fruits and vegetables was due to an increase in money spent on fresh produce; there was no meaningful changes in expenditures of canned or frozen produce.
When researchers looked closer, they found this increase was only seen in middle and higher income families, those earning 185 percent above the poverty level (or above $39,000 for a family of three in 2019).
“The effect is driven by higher income households. Lower income households are not changing their produce purchases when they become parents,” Dr. Cliff said. “This difference in produce purchases based on income shows one potential source of disparities in nutrition and could contribute to health consequences down the line.”Friday Letter Submission, Publish on July 19